OHSAA expands high school football playoffs beginning in 2021 season

FILE – In this Dec. 3, 2015, file photo, Toledo Central Catholic's Michael Warren (40), center,...
FILE – In this Dec. 3, 2015, file photo, Toledo Central Catholic's Michael Warren (40), center, tries to run past Akron Archbishop Hoban's Marc Westover (9), left, and Jonah Morris (1), right, during the first half of the Ohio High School Athletic Association's Division III championship high school football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)(Jay LaPrete | AP)
Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 1:03 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS (WTVG) - After positive responses from allowing all schools to participate in the 2020 football postseason, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced plans to expand and alter the regional playoffs for the 2021 season.

Beginning this year, 16 teams will be eligible for the playoffs from each region, double the amount from previous seasons. The higher seeded team will host first- and second-round games before neutral sites are used, beginning in the regional semifinals. The playoffs will also remain six weeks in duration.

The 2020 postseason was expanded to allow more teams to compete due to COVID-19 rules and regulations shortening the season.

“We know there are some who want to keep the football postseason to a smaller number of schools, but the postseason tournament gives such a positive experience for our student-athletes, the schools, and their communities that we felt strongly about giving that opportunity to more schools to make the playoffs,” said Doug Ute, OHSAA Executive Director. “And football remains the only OHSAA sport in which not every team automatically qualifies for the postseason.”

With the expanded playoffs, 448 teams will qualify for the playoffs or around 60% of schools that field an 11-man football team in the state.

The OHSAA is also considering a strength of schedule component in 2022 to the Harbin computer ratings, which are used to determine the playoff qualifiers.

The 2021 football season kicks off on Friday, August 20, and the regular season will end on Saturday, October 23.

While the site of the state championship games has not been determined, the format will include one game Thursday, December 2, and two games each on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, December 3-5.

During the first five rounds of the playoffs, Division I, II, III, and IV schools will play on Friday nights, while Division V, VI, and VII schools will play on Saturday nights.

2021 OHSAA Football Playoff Schedule

  • October 29-30 – First Round at Higher Seeded Teams
  • November 5-6 – Regional Quarterfinals at Higher Seeded Teams
  • November 12-13 – Regional Semifinals at Neutral Sites
  • November 19-20 – Regional Finals at Neutral Sites
  • November 26-27 – State Semifinals at Neutral Sites
  • December 2-5 – State Championships, Site TBD, one game Thursday, two games each day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

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